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Hudson Valley Press

December 19th, 2012

NFA Varsity Crew Team’s 2013 season saved

Team Mom Juliana LoBiondo; Jessie Dennis; City of Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy; Cora Stepakoff; Brandon Padavano; Kerry Kennedy; Christian LoBiondo; and NECSD Board of Education President Dawn Fucheck at the River Grill on December 15, 2012. Hudson Valley Press/CHUCK STEWART, JR.

NEWBURGH – On Saturday, Friends of Newburgh Crew, Inc., announced that it has raised $53,000.00 through fundraising efforts in the community, and that there will indeed be a 2013 NFA Varsity Crew Season.

The announcement was made by Dr. Geoffrey Brackett, vice president of Marist College, and father of a rower on the NFA Varsity Crew Team, during the group’s final fundraiser for 2012, the Holiday Buffet and Arts Auction at the River Grill.

The event was attended by many staunch supporters, from Senator and Mrs. Larkin, to Mayor Judith Kennedy, Fire Chief Michael Vatter and his wife, Police Chief Michael Ferrara and his wife, Board of Education President Dawn Fucheck, Board of Education Vice President Pamela Resch, and philanthropist and author Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega.

Cheers broke out after the announcement. Said NFA Varsity Head Coach Ed Kennedy, "It’s the greatest thing in the world, to see how hard these rowers and parents have worked in the off season to raise 100 percent of the money needed to have a team. They’ve been training pretty hard too. These rowers and parents, who are from all different walks of life, have come together and learned one of the number one lessons of crew: you can’t even move the boat out of the Boathouse unless everyone co-operates and works together as one team."

In March 2012, after 22 years of existence, the 72 member varsity crew team (along with two other varsity teams) was eliminated during budget cuts brought on by New York State’s newly enacted tax cap. The entire 72 member team rowed under the knowledge they had been officially eliminated, yet not one athlete left for another varsity sport and the team finished the season by winning Sectionals for the 14th year in a row and winning the Orange-Ulster County Championship for the 12th year in a row.

After an unprecedented 14 young people got up in May of 2012 and testified at a public NECSD Board of Education hearing, unscripted and on their own, requesting the reinstatement of their team, the Board of Education voted unanimously on June 26, 2012 to reinstate the Varsity Crew Team, the only varsity team to be reinstated. The Resolution, which was a joint effort between lawyers for the school and crew parents, reinstated the team on the condition that they raise all of the funds.

A 501(c)(3) called "Friends of Newburgh Crew, Inc." was formed, and the athletes, parents, and supporters began selling "Mega Raffle" tickets for $2 each, with the prizes having been bought by the 501(c)(3) from Best Buy at a discount - 1st prize was a 51" Plasma TV and 2nd prize was an Apple Ipad. "Virtually every weekend, the athletes, parents, siblings, alumni, supporters from other teams, such as the San Miguel Crew Team and the Newburgh Rowing Club, as well as families, and neighbors, came out and helped with raffle ticket sales," said Team Mom Juliana LoBiondo. "We have been everywhere, from car shows, to Shop Rite, to Quick Check, to Dunkin Donuts, Devitt’s, City of Newburgh parks, Verizon and more. Crew Mom Barbara Patterson organized every one of our dozens of public raffle sales like a military operation, with advance sign ups, shifts, sign in sheets, and written community service hour printouts. Our rowers collectively logged thousands of community service hours and our parents donated thousands of hours and thousands of dollars. People keep asking me how much we got from the School District. To be crystal clear: zero."

"We had some large corporate and business donations," said Team Mom LoBiondo, "from a local philanthropist who does not want publicity; from our neighbors Global Oil, LoBiondo Law, Associated Supermarkets, Kiss My Face, Laborers Local 17, the River Grill, Bethlehem Art Gallery, Amy Wiley Photography, Just Off Broadway, Inc., to name a few. We had a large donation from a Newburgh resident’s charitable trust. Other than that, we raised money through booster donations. The steadiest ongoing source of fundraising was the public raffle sales."

"It’s the community support that got us here," said Friends of Newburgh Crew president Darryl Sheridan. "And we were so happy that members of the community, totally un-connected to Crew won the Mega Raffle. Coach Schafer and I delivered the prizes on December 16. Perry Gumbs, of the City of Newburgh won the Ipad. He had bought his raffle ticket from a rower outside Dunkin Donuts. And Mary Moffett, also of the City of Newburgh, won the 51-inch TV. She bought tickets at Wal Mart, Dunkin Donuts and the car show at Price Chopper. To say that our winners were thrilled would be an understatement."

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